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Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard

In twenty years as a reporter and editor, Leonard has covered the emergence of the Internet, the dot-com boom and bust, and China. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and is perhaps the first reporter who made his entire living by reporting about the Internet for online publications. Working for Salon.com in San Francisco during the 1990s, he had a first hand view of the Internet economy.

Three years ago Leonard began to focus, as a reporter/blogger/columnist, on the topic of “globalization,” using a fairly broad definition — anything that interconnects humans living on this globe is included. He is neither for it or against it — he only endeavors to understand it, and, hopefully, help explain it.

Program Description

How the World Works: The interconnections between globalization, energy policy, economics, the environment, and politics…and everything else in between

In his lectures, Leonard discusses how in the course of exploring the issues of trade, capital flows, battles over intellectual property, and the challenges of getting the world together to work on global warming, he gradually found his beat revolving around three absurdly large and inextricably interrelated axes — economics, the environment, and energy.  And, as his work has converged on those topics, the U.S. housing bust precipitated the greatest economic crisis the world has witnessed in our lifetime.  Leonard addresses the depth and breadth of the global financial meltdown, and digs deeper into the root causes and underlying interconnections that, unless broken, will continue to harm our future prospects.

Moreover, Leonard illustrates how one cannot understand the U.S. housing bust without understanding China. One cannot can fight global warming without understanding how U.S. politics work. One can trace connections from 17th century India to 21st century Berkeley, CA.  Trade-offs exist everywhere, and understanding emerges from nuance.

Leonard’s lectures are about the sense of connection and interrelatedness that is essential to globalization. It’s not always a positive relationship — just ask the Midwestern auto industry workers whose pensions and wages are being slashed as a direct result of foreign competition. And it’s not always an obvious connection: the digital technology advances (computers, the Internet) that push globalization are responsible both for vast intellectual property violations and the rise of the open source software movement (Linux, Firefox). They are flip sides of the same basic transformation. A core element of globalization is that information travels everywhere, more cheaply and more quickly than ever before. We’ve only just begun to understand the implications of this.  Leonard not only helps distill the ramifications of these changes, but more importantly helps us glimpse the the possibilities that the future may hold.


Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon.com who currently writes the hybrid blog/column “How the World Works” — a venue for exploring the interconnections between globalization, energy policy, economics, the environment, and politics. Prior to ‘How the World Works,’ he edited Salon’s Technology & Business department from 2000-2005. From 1996-2000 he was Salon’s lead technology reporter.

Leonard is the author of Bots: Origin of a New Species, published by HardWired in 1996, and described in a New York Times review as a “playful social history of the Internet.” His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Wired, Newsweek, The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, Sierra Magazine, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle and numerous other publications. Before becoming a journalist he studied Mandarin Chinese for ten years and lived and traveled extensively in East Asia.

His most recent career highlight came in early November 2008 when he was denounced by name on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Senator James Inhofe, R.-Oklahoma.